Bright future for debaters

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From Young Post, South China Morning Post on 14th September 2010.

For the past 25 years, Hong Kong teams have performed well at international debating competitions, including the World Schools Debating Championships (WSDC) and the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championships (WIDPSC).

In 2007, Chris Sykes of Li Po Chun United World COllege set a national record by ranking sixth at WSDC, while the local team broke several Hong Kong records at this year’s WIDPSC.

Despite Hong Kong’s success, there has been no co-ordinated effort to organize territory-wide debating or public speaking contests in line wtih world school events. This is why Hong Kong could not send a team to the World Championships in Washington DC in 2008.

However, things finally came together in April this year. Michael Evershed of South Island School – manager of the WSDC team – set up the Hong Kong Schools Debating Council (HKSDC) with the support of both coaches and students across the city.
The council plans to organize two senior and two junior debating championships as well as a public speaking competition annually. It will also have the authority ot select both national debating and public speaking teams.
For the first time, HKSDC is organising debates under the world school system which involves two teams of three competing against each other.

The Heart of Europe Debating Tournament, a premier international event, provided the first chance for HKSDC to flex its new-found muscles. The council sent two teams to the Czech Republic after the debaters underwent intensive training supervised by official coaches Greg Forse and Roy Allen. The teams were accompanied by Raphael Leung, a trainee adjudicator from La Salle College.
Both teams performed extremely well – Team 1 made it to the finals, only to be beaten by South Africa, while Team 2 were knocked out in the quarter-finals. This was the best result for a Hong Kong team at an international tournament. On top of that, all eligible speakers ranked in the top 20.

HKSDC has been busy promoting debating in the city. It organised the Junior Debating Championships at Discovery Bay College in May. A total of 22 schools took aprt in the event with South Island School winning the title.

Twenty-eight schools will be participating in the first ever Senior Debating Championships, which will be held on September 25 at South Island School. It is bound to generate tremendous interest since the selections for the national debating team will be partly based on the performance of speakers at the competition.

HKSDC membership is open to students, coaches, teachers and associates from every school. They are welcome to learn more about the council, upcoming international and domestic tournaments, and the selction process for the national teams as well as register as a member at the council’s website, hksdc.wordpress.com.

Under the guidance of the HKSDC, Hong Kong’s debater’s have a bright future.

Heather Pickerell is a student at German Swiss International School

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